Community garden marks 150th anniversary of cotton mill history

Farington Cotton Mill
Farington Cotton Mill

A community garden commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Lancashire Cotton Famine has opened in Leyland.

Farington Mill Garden has been unveiled to show the importance of the village’s textile history.

Historian Joan Langford, who has worked tirelessly to see the project come to life, offers a brief history of the Farington Cotton Mill, and the effect the two-year famine had on families in the area.

In 1840, brothers-in-law William Bashall and William Boardman built their huge spinning and weaving mill in Farington, and also built houses for their workforce in Mill Street, East Street, School Street and Spring Gardens.

The Mill Street dwellings formed what was once the longest terrace of houses in the country.

The most severe period of depression experienced in the textile industry occurred from 1861 to 1865, when no raw cotton was arriving from America, partly due to the Civil War.

Lancashire mill workers went from being some of the most prosperous workers in Britain to the most impoverished. As a result, Farington Mill was forced to close from September 1862 to May 1864, and many people in the area were unemployed.

Savings soon dwindled to nothing, and valuables and possessions were sold in desperate attempts to survive.

Bashall and Boardman did all they could to help their employees. They allowed them to live rent free, and a soup kitchen was established.

People were regularly supplied with tea and sugar and the needs of the aged and infirm were attended to with coals and warm clothing.

They also provided maths and English lessons for male operatives and cookery and needlework lessons for the girls, to keep them occupied.

When the first wagon of American cotton arrived in Farington in April 1864, 
people rejoiced, and helped push the wagons up the hill towards the mill.

Sadly, just three years later in July 1867, a devastating fire caused thousands of pounds worth of damage at the mill, and it had to close for another two and a half years.

Despite these setbacks, the mill began to go from strength the strength, and in the early 1900s, was purchased by Messrs. Geo & R Dewhurst.

Farington Mill continued to manufacture its high quality cotton goods until the early 1970s, and the last working shift was in the Winding Room in November 1971.

The mill buildings were demolished shortly after the closure.